Serfontein up to the challenge

Jan Serfontein believes that the Boks' new centre pairing can match up to the more settled Welsh combination on Saturday.

Showing all the exuberance of youth, the 21-year old Bulls centre spoke of his readiness to step up to the plate, with the Springboks still reeling from Frans Steyn's decision to withdraw from the squad for the June Tests.

It was the latest in a long line of set-backs for coach Heyeke Meyer as he looks to fill the troublesome No 12 jersey. Serfontein has shown some decent form in recent weeks for the Bulls following a shaky start to the season, something which Meyer alluded to when speaking on his decision.

'I would have preferred a settled team, but Jan is a very talented player and what is more, he is in excellent form,' said Meyer. 'He won the Man of the Match award in Super Rugby recently, and while he hasn’t started for us yet, he has picked up nine caps coming off the bench. It will be a big challenge for him, but I am sure he will cope with it.'

Serfontein will be partnered in the middle of the park by JP Pietersen who, despite his international experience, will be starting his first match at centre for the Boks on Saturday.

He was effusive in his praise of his new midfield partner.

'JP has helped me a lot this week. He is a seriously good player with a lot of experience that rubs off, and it has enabled us to combine quite well at training,' said Serfontein. 'He has played there [outside centre] quite a bit [at other levels] so I don’t expect any problems. He's a guy that has pace and strength, which are important aspects if you want to do well in the midfield.'

Serfontein's opponent this weekend comes in the considerable form of Jamie Roberts. The British & Irish Lions centre will prove a formidable foe for the incumbent Bok centre, but it is a challenge which he is relishing.

'Jamie Roberts is a big centre, he's over 100kg, so they're obviously going to use him to get front foot ball from the first phase,' he said. 'But I think we're well-prepared, we went through our defence this week and it went pretty well. Playing next to Morné, we played Super Rugby together last year, so we understand each other pretty well on defence and attack.'

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images